Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pieces of the Past: The Mission, "It's probably nearing disaster level" (or Months 18-24)

By Mister Curie

It was only after my disaffection that I was able to see a pattern in my life indicating that I was not strictly heterosexual. This is part of a series of posts as I try to account for all the pieces to the puzzle of my sexual orientation. By documenting the pieces of the puzzle, I hope to be able to put the picture together. Only by being as completely honest with myself as I can will I be able to understand who I am. This sixth post in the series will deal with months 18-24 of my mission.

The reprieve from the difficulties focusing and "Satan's temptations" were not to last. Two companions later, I developed another crush on a companion. I was with the favorite companion of my mission. We were together for five months and got along great, probably too great in fact. We were emotionally very close and the other companionships in the district starting calling us a "married couple," largely due to our frequent mini-arguments and "lover spats." It probably only confirmed this impression of a married couple when we used our extra Missionary Support Funds to purchase a waffle iron and new pots and pans. We very nearly purchased new carpet for our apartment as well (we got ample Missionary Support Funds and the economy of the country was declining so we got progressively more money as we exchanged dollars for the local currency). I again became distracted by sexual thoughts, had a supercharged libido, and turned to masturbation. It was nearly impossible for me to admit that I was in love with my companion and what that would mean to me, although my journal entries clearly document that I was getting close to understanding that I was homosexual.

About two months into our companionship we started wrestling. The first time, I recorded in my journal:

Last night, Elder ****** got me out of my bad mood by getting me involved in a wrestling/tickling match. It was pretty fun and we had a good companionship bonding moment.

I loved the close contact our wrestling provided and frequently became aroused during our wrestling. The repressed sexual attraction made working together difficult. I recorded a few days after our first wrestling match:

We haven't been working very well and we've been getting offended a bit and getting angry at each other. The reason is that I haven't been trying to do work, or be one, or to work with him. I've just been thinking about him and we've been wrestling and tickling each other.
With such strong attraction, I began to see that I was compartmentalizing my life, although I had a very negative view of the homosexual feelings I was repressing, writing:

It seems like I'm developing two faces. I have the mask of a missionary and one of a sinner. These masks even affect my thoughts. When I put on the missionary mask, my thoughts improve, I judge others of things that even I do, and I focus more. My sinner mask mostly comes on when I'm left to myself and then my mind wanders to hidden realms, forbidden. I feel like a cavern of darkness is opening inside my ind and that I'm being sucked in.
I need to close that cavern and focus my thoughts on good things. . . I need to stop before things get too bad. I don't feel much like a missionary and my mind is easily distracted now - I've allowed it to roam without constraints for too long.
But our companionship also seemed to be going very well and I was intoxicated by my love for my companion. A few days later, my journal entry reads like I am describing a date:

We got some ice cream and had a nice walk home in the evening. We rough-housed and had tickling fights and kept playing human bumper cars with each other. I felt like a little kid again. . . . We had fun. Then we got home and talked a little bit. It's a pretty weird thought the he's a cowboy. I never would've become friends with a cowboy, but now we're the best of companions. Life is looking pretty good right now.
The next day I recorded:

We were pretty tired from our late night. We had companionship wrestling last night and were worn out.
Our interactions with each other became more intimate. We often put our arms around each other's shoulders when doing companionship study in the morning, or while kneeling side by side at our beds with our legs and sides touching to pray at night. We also regularly gave each other hugs before going to bed. My mission pictures of us together always have our arms around each other, or sitting close to each other touching. One photo even has us practically cuddling on the couch after having eaten a large meal at a member's house. I definitely used the constant counsel that we love our companions to deny that anything inappropriate might be developing between us.

The wrestling continued. A couple days later I wrote:

I wasted Companionship study time with wrestling. It was fun, but I think that I'm beginning to waste a lot of time with this desire to wrestle. I don't know why. I'm not even much of an athletic guy. It's pretty dumb.
Another entry records:

We woke up and had a little bit of exercise/wrestling and so we got started [with Companionship study] a bit late.
And then notes:

When we got home [this evening], we found a note on our door from the neighbor asking us to stop our morning exercises because it wakes her up and she's getting cracks in the ceiling. So it looks like we'd better stop wrestling. It's probably a good thing.
It was probably a good thing because I was getting increasingly aroused by our wrestling. I wonder what our neighbor really thought our "exercises" were.
Then my companion and I had to take a trip to the mission headquarters for a training session for mission leadership. It involved an 18 hour train ride. We sat with each other, touching as we traveled. I wrote about the trip:

The time in the train has also given me some time to think about less wholesome things. I need to focus my mind and be clean... I don't mind the train. I really like being rocked to sleep. The only problem is having too much time to think and allowing your mind to wander. I hate such problems.
The relationship I had with my companion, however, felt very wholesome and good. I believed it was just the manifestation of the pure love of Christ in our companionship. My negative journal entries actually focused much more on the evils of the desire to masturbate, or were filled with negative self-talk when I did masturbate. I did not really connect in my mind the increased desire for sexual release with the repressed sexual feelings I had for my companion.

My "wake-up call" came during a prolonged wrestling session. In my journal, I cryptically wrote:

We sat together on the couch for a couple of hours and I got four letters written. We also wrestled a little, but tried not to disturb our neighbor downstairs. I think the wrestling is getting a little bit out of hand. Actually it's probably nearing disaster level. I need to be more focused on my work. But everything was alright in the end.
What that actually meant, was that we had sat on the couch, our sides touching each other, frequently putting our arms around each other's shoulders while we were writing letters. That progressed into a wrestling session and while wrestling with my companion I could feel my body's arousal intensifying as it progressed through the natural stages of the sexual response and I felt it nearing the point of orgasm. In fact, I felt as if I was starting to ejaculate. I pulled back from the wrestling and tried to regain control. I have no idea what my companion was thinking at this. After an appropriate pause, I excused myself to go to the bathroom where I checked my garments. I had not, in fact, ejaculated, but did have large amounts of Cowper's fluid, or pre-ejaculate. I considered it disaster averted. I had not, in fact, climaxed while wrestling with my companion and had therefore not done anything wrong.

I tried to be better in the future while wrestling so as to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences. I do not know what my companion's feelings about any of this were, as we never discussed it. I don't know if he knew of my arousal or if he was also aroused during our wrestling. However, we continued to sit close to each other during companionship and personal study, prayer, etc. My journal entries record increasingly frequent episodes of bad moods on the part of both of us. I wonder if it might have been a subconscious effort on our part to keep our physical relationship at bay. It may also have resulted from the repressed sexual desire kept boiling underneath the surface. But emotionally we remained closely connected. We didn't wrestle again for about a month, but then my journal records that we started again on a second train trip we were taking to mission headquarters for another mission leadership conference. I just couldn't control the attraction I felt for my companion:

We wrestled for a little while to build up the companionship unity and then discussed concerns. It was pretty good. I hope our wrestling didn't disturb the neighbors too much... Elder ****** wanted to go to bed for the night. We rough housed for a while and then I stopped bugging him and let him go to sleep.
The day after returning from the trip, I wrote:

We came home to prepare a lesson. But I couldn't focus on it. So I ended up wasting a ton of time and bothered my companion. I wrestled with him for quite a while, which wasn't too effective. Actually, it really distracts me and wasn't good... I [again] tried to prepare a lesson ... Then Satan struck me and I fell spiritually [masturbated.] It all happens so fast, but in hindsight I could see it coming. What with all the time to think, wrestling, etc.
Here, I was finally connecting the desire for sexual release and masturbation with thinking about my companion and the arousal I experienced while we wrestled. We were nearing five months together and learned that the plan was to keep us together for another 2 months. But then a problem elsewhere in the mission necessitated an emergency transfer that pulled my companion away. I was devastated when he was transferred and cried frequently before his departure, mourning my loss.

I made it through the remaining 3 companionships of my mission without developing another crush.

After returning home with honor, I heard rumors that one of my high school friends was sent home from his mission early for homosexuality. The rumor was that he had apparently crawled into his companion's bed one night and tried to fondle him. I was never able to confirm these rumors and didn't know what, if any, church discipline he faced. I remember being shocked and thinking to myself that if things had turned out slightly differently on my mission, or if one of my companions had interpreted things slightly differently, that would have been me. But they hadn't, and I couldn't admit to myself that I was gay.

Disaster averted.


  1. I can't help but wonder how your companion crushes would react if they read these posts. ;)

  2. EV - It is something I have worried about in publishing such candid accounts, but I figured honesty was most important in my journey of self-discovery. In reviewing my journal, it really makes me wonder what my companions were thinking at the time, particularly with the wrestling, sitting close together on the couch, hugging, etc. Could they also have been homosexual? The ones I am friends with on facebook appear happily married, but so am I - so that may not be much of a clue.

    Interestingly, shortly after I wrote this post (but before publishing), another former missionary from my mission wrote this comment on a facebook picture of me and the companion described in this post: "i wonder which companionship got along the most...hmmm???" (we were posing with several other missionary companionships, but only my companion and I have our arms around each other's shoulders).

    Makes me wonder . . .

  3. I don't know how its possible for you and this companion to have experienced this without both of you having some desire to do it. Meaning--he must have had some unfulfilled needs also. I also wonder how you could have done this without him noticing your arousal and vice versa.

  4. @Joe - I definitely wanted to do it, and the first time my companion instigated it, so he must have wanted to too. Although, maybe it was just simply heterosexual wrestling on his part. I didn't notice any arousal on his part, but I didn't exactly feel free to grope around and find out. As far as him noticing, I guess it depends on what you allow yourself to acknowledge, I mean I participated in wrestling with tons of physical desire on my part without acknowledging that I was homosexual (however that worked).

  5. It amazes me that you even wrote down some of this in this fashion in your journals. I wasn't quite as "religious" in writing down my daily activities or thoughts, but I know you'd never find details of the thoughts or activities in my journals. I know I masturbated once--in the middle of the night when I was semi-awake, but that never went into the journal. I had a crush on a comp, but never would have written it. I guess I just thought too much about who would be reading that journal 50 years in the future. The world has changed a lot in the 18 years I've been home.

  6. Mister C was **always** been religious about writing daily in his journal while on his mission. If you notice, too - he wrote in code to himself for most of the more "difficult" passages. Times that he talks about masturbation are generally written in the language he served in, rather than English.

    Also, he was in complete denial that he was feeling anything "inappropriate" towards his companion, so why wouldn't he record them? I can see in hindsight that things should have been clear-cut, but knowing my husband - I can also see why they were not ;-) He's pretty exceptional at compartmentalization.

  7. @Joe - I resolved to write at least a full page in my journal every day of my mission and I kept that goal - so I had to fill it with something! :)

    Going back to my journal, I was also quite shocked at how blunt I could be about things that happened, especially since I do not ever consciously recall recognizing that I was gay. My only thought is that because I was so obsessed over my companion, it was the only thing I was thinking about, and thus it was the only thing I could write about. Mme Curie is right, I occasionally used certain code words and I also wrote passages I didn't want future relations to read in Russian.

  8. Thanks for writing these things Mr. Curie, I had very similar thoughts (although not exactly the same wrestling experiences). I'll write about it. Reading this brings back many memories and realizations of repressed feelings I had on my mish.

  9. This is the post that has been causing my the most emotional trauma this week. Mister C has had it written for about a week now, and there were a number of things that he hadn't remembered until he started writing up the post.

    I admit that rereading it now, I am starting to be sad and fearful again. Ugh, I seriously don't know how all the wives in MOMs do it. One minute I am fine, and the next I am depressed. I'm seriously not usually this bipolar.

  10. @PL - I'm glad I could write something that helps you reconcile things with the past. I look forward to reading your post. I think it is very helpful to honestly share past experiences, I know I've realized a lot about myself from reading posts by others in the MoHo queerosphere.

    @MC - I love you! I'm sorry this post is causing you angst. Thanks for being there for me and helping me through the tough times. I'll be there for you too!

  11. I've always been bothered by the church's stance regarding feelings vs behavior.
    i.e. Feelings happen, but behavior is chosen.

    Your experiences parallel mine in that the behavior is unconscious of any decision to be or act gay. We don't consider that our actions have anything to do with the natural human "pair bonding" instinct. It doesn't feel gay; it just feels normal.

    I had loads of gay like behavior that I was completely unconscious of when growing up. Behavior. Not feelings. I repressed all feelings.

    It struck me in how you, (hell we all did didn't we?) label your thoughts into the world of "pair bonding" to be Satan's influence. Wow, that takes me back to the good old days.
    The culture in which I grew up taught that all feelings regarding the "natural man", in this case, "pair bonding", was bad until the age of 16 and even then, it was at harms length. (The notion of gay paring was NEVER talked about other than Packer's famous talk that OK'd the use of violence.) I took it literally in all directions. I never allowed ANYONE to touch me. Girls because I didn't want them to think I was having sex before marriage, and boys because if they did then they would make me gay. It wasn't a pretty picture. I wasn't touched by anyone except one girl at age 19 and then didn't touch anyone since. It turns out I'm still gay.

  12. @TGD - Your comment reminded me of an enlightening (although disturbing for my wife) conversation I had recently with my wife. I was trying to explain the crushes I've had on guys and why they didn't clue me in to being gay. I explained that they were good, natural feelings of affinity and desire to be with someone, they didn't match with what society and the church taught about them being evil sinful desires. Most of the time the feelings weren't even overtly sexual, they were just a desire to be with that person because I felt like we had some sort of special connection. The reason why they didn't clue me into being gay (and the disturbing part for my wife) was because the feelings I had toward men were entirely different from the feelings I've ever had toward women. My wife just nodded her head knowingly and said, "You are so gay."

    I agree with your response about feelings and behaviors. I grew up believing that all sexual feelings and behaviors were sinful before marriage. And you are right, my behaviors were never from a desire to be gay, I was just acting on my natural feelings. I no longer attribute my natural desires to Satan.

  13. I completely relate to your latter comments about the feelings you have in relationships with men (relationship can equal friendship, Mme Curie) being different than those you have with women. I think it's partly the "you're so gay" part of us, but also partly a product of our extremely sex-segregated Mormon culture.

  14. EV- I think it's partly the "you're so gay" part of us, but also partly a product of our extremely sex-segregated Mormon culture.

    Its probably exaggerated in Mormon culture, but I have experienced those same things outside the church as well. Of course, on the other hand, I also went to an all-girls high school and hung out at the all-girls dormitory in college, so I guess I self-selected sex-segregation...

  15. One other thing I would like to add is that in his description of how he views men versus women, my husband left out something vital. Before describing how his feelings were good, uplifting, and not sinful in nature (all of which I agree with, by the way), he remarked that (and I paraphrase), "Sometimes I just feel physically attracted to a man, based on the shadow of his facial hair or his jaw-line. Its simply a physical thing. I don't feel the same way with women."

    At that point I think I rolled my eyes and said that this was how most straight men described how they notice a pretty girl.

    I just wanted to point this out, because those comments very much played into my response to him that he was "so gay". He left out that key component of the exchange.

  16. @Joe - I just watched the movie, "Big Eden". The relationship between Henry and Dean reminded me a lot of my relationship with my mission companion. I know it was just a movie, but Dean turns out to be straight, so I suppose that type of relationship can occur between a gay man and a straight man.